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Did you know that you can enjoy one of the most scenic road trips in the U.S. by driving from Tampa to Anna Maria Island? It’s one of my favorite trips in Florida to take and in this post, we’ll go over everything to know about the route and stops to make!
It’s no secret that the state of Florida is home to one of the world’s most diverse coastlines. From white sandy beaches to emerald blue water and unique wildlife, all of these things and more can be found on this unforgettable road trip.
Read the guide below to learn about the most convenient routes, available modes of transportation, and must-see sights on your journey to one of the most stunning barrier islands in the U.S.
Booking a last-minute trip to Tampa or Anna Maria Island?
If so, we have you covered. Here are some top recommended tours and hotels!
Top Tours in Tampa
Guided Tampa Tour In A Deluxe Street Legal Golf Cart – (Best Guided Tampa Tour)
Tiki Boat – Downtown Tampa – (Authentic Tampa Floating Tiki Bar)
Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise From Tampa – (1.5 Hour Dolphin Watching Cruise)
Top Tours in Anna Maria Island
Boat Excursion To Capri Island – (Small Group Boat Tour From Sorrento)
Parasailing Adventure – (Above Bradenton Beach & Anna Maria Island)
Private Fishing Trip With Sight Seeing – (Half Day Tour Around Anna Maria Island)
Top Hotels & Accommodations in Tampa
AC Hotel By Marriott Tampa Airport – (Top Rated Hotel Near Tampa Airport)
Hyatt House Tampa Airport/Westshore – (Highly Rated Hotel With Bar & Pool)
Top Hotels & Accommodations in Anna Maria Island
Bungalow Beach Resort – (Beachfront Property In Bradenton Beach)
Captain’s Quarters At Anna Maria Island – (High Rated Villa With Private Pool)
Looking To Get Around In Anna Maria Island?
Check out rental car rates here! 🚗
Photo Credit- Google Maps
Distance From Tampa To Anna Maria Island
For reference, the distance from the Tampa International Airport to Anna Maria Island ranges from 53.6 to 64 miles. Average travel time by car can take an hour to an hour and 40 minutes.
This can be longer depending on the route taken, traffic flow, and stops made along the way.
Photo Credit- Tampa.gov
Caddy’s Restaurant Bradenton
Shortly before entering Anna Maria Island, you’ll find Caddy’s Restaurant in Bradenton.
This waterfront tropical paradise on the Manatee River serves flavor-packed seafood dishes, burgers, beach-inspired frozen drinks, and no shortage of good vibes.
Every Wednesday, Caddy’s hosts their Sunset Trivia with hundreds of dollars in prizes. On the weekends, you can feel the beat with live music and plenty of great food and beverage specials.
Some popular menu items include the Grouper Sandwich, Crab Cake BLT, and Caddy’s Seafood Platter to name a few.
Photo Credit- Gandy Beach/Facebook
If you Take 92 To 694 To 275
Taking 1-275S via 92 and Florida State Road 694 will lead you to Gandy Beach rather than Cypress Point Park. It can be found on the south side of Gandy Bridge near St. Petersburg.
Bearing the nickname “Redneck Riviera” for its past party reputation, Gandy Beach is also known for a more peaceful element: mangroves.
In fact, many efforts have been made to protect the mangrove forest that grows on the beach’s western section. For this reason, alcohol consumption, camping, and beach fires are not allowed here.
Pedestrians on foot can explore the mangroves, and the beach is also dog-friendly and great for swimming and wildlife viewing. It is possible to view sting rays along with different species of sharks and birds.
Gandy Beach is also the location for the start of the annual Tampa Bay Frogman Swim, which raises funds for severely injured active-duty Navy SEALs.
Can You Drive To Anna Maria Island?
Absolutely! It’s actually the fastest, cheapest, and most convenient way to get there.
There are two bridges across from the mainland that provide entry into the island: the Cortez Bridge and Anna Maria Island Bridge.
Once on the island, you’ll want to peruse the four main roads on Anna Maria Island: Gulf Drive, Pine Avenue, Bay Boulevard, and Manatee Avenue.
Each one is home to plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants, historical churches, parks, and more.
There are also plenty of places to park for free throughout the island including street parking and designated lots. They fill up fast, however, so getting there early is a must.
Conversely, if you don’t have a vehicle and opt to fly or take a shuttle or bus instead, you will have no problem exploring the island itself.
There are numerous modes of transportation available including the free Anna Maria Island trolley car, golf carts, bikes, or Segway tours.
The island is also very walkable, so lacing up your shoes to explore is safe and super convenient.
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Book Your Next Trip! For Accommodations and short-term rentals, I recommend Booking.com as they are the best in the business when it comes to rates and places to stay.
To Book Activities- For activities, I suggest booking with Viator, they have thousands of 5-star activities to choose from!
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